In the summer of 1991 two cartoon characters premiered on US TV channel Nickelodeon that would change the way we watch cartoons forever. Starring a near psychopathic chihuahua (Ren) and lovable yet dimwitted Manx cat (Ren), the chaotically weird duo became an integral part of must see 90s television. The Ren & Stimpy Show was the cartoon the cool kids watched, it was the show most parents wanted to ban. With strangely surreal adult themes, blatant homosexual undertones, wilful parody and deconstruction of American capitalism (especially aping the 'made to sell toys' cartoons of that era). Ren & Stimpy riffed on 1950s society, whole chunks of each episode were done in black and white, with nods to the slap stick comedy stylings of The Three Stooges and many more. It used the most wonderful back catalogue of movie sound FX and sonically comedy and gross out set pieces ever used. As well as having it's own zany and original score, gut churning close up stills, mind numbing repetition, brain worm quality songs, gross out story lines and characters that pushed every boundary and taboo to the very limit. Nickelodeon even had to heavily edit and cut episodes sent to them (often late) by its producers Spumco, in order to keep the cartoon 'family friendly' before eventually pulling the show from Spumco and its creator altogether for its second season.
It would later turn out that creator and original voice of both characters John Kricfalusi was a deeply troubled genius, with multiple unsavoury accusations surfacing about his private life and even that of one of his Spumco associates. Not to mention the later released (then swiftly cancelled) Adult version of the show, which finally stepped over every line and boundary the original series merely hinted at, ripping out subtext in place of bludgeoning the viewer to death with in your face gross out adult themes and soft porn in cartoon form.
Rich Roth and Dan Collacott sat down to discuss their love of the original cartoon, best moments and episodes and the controversial plans for a reboot. Whilst trying their level best to avoid discussing the cult of personality that is the shows incredible yet deeply flawed creator. Listen below.
The 4Ever team...
Welcome to 4ever in Electric Dreams which is the virtual HQ and home to our burgeoning podcast network spearheaded by our flagship series, Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind (C.E.N.K.).
Our podcasts are available on the following platforms: